Is It Legal to Sleep in Your Car in New York?
There are many reasons why somebody might need to sleep in their car. Maybe you're long-hauling it to another state and don't want to pay for a hotel. Maybe you're trying to camp on the cheap. Maybe your wife kicked you out. (Cheer up, Charlie, I'm sure you'll work it out.) But we're not going to get into the "WHY'S" here. We just want to know... is it legal to sleep in your car overnight?
The honest answer for this question is: it depends.
New York doesn't have any specific laws prohibiting someone from catching a few Z's in their automobile. Whether or not you can sleep in your car has less to do with you, and more to do with where you're doing it.
NEW YORK STATE REST STOPS ARE OK
The New York State Department of Transportation would actually prefer you slept in your car at rest stops, as driving drowsy poses huge safety risks. However, camping-- that is to say, erecting a tent or shelter to sleep in outside your car-- is prohibited at New York rest stops.
DON'T PARK ON PRIVATE PROPERTY
Any sort of private property, which includes business parking lots, is considered on a case-by-case basis. Walmarts across the country are known for allowing it. For other businesses, it's possible you could get the owner's permission to sleep overnight.
There are even websites you can register with, like Harvest Hosts, which for a small fee gives you access to a database of commercial businesses that allow RVs and campers to park overnight. While it's designed mostly for people with large camping vehicles, there's no reason why they wouldn't let you sleep in your car. Sometimes you can avoid the fees by just calling the business and asking, under the agreement that you come spend a few bucks there.
Just exercise caution before sleeping in your car overnight. Make sure you're not committing any parking violations by doing so. And if you don't have tinted windows, you can always get a product like this on Amazon: